In new education policy, India turns to the vernacular


India’s federal cabinet Wednesday approved a new national education policy, which among other things mandates that the medium of instruction till at least Grade V and preferably till Grade VIII and beyond be in the home or regional language.

It was not immediately clear if that would be binding on private English medium schools. India’s English educated work force is credited with having made the country and global pool of talent.

The major reforms in school education in the new policy include universalization of early childhood care education, setting up of a national mission on foundational literacy and numeracy, 5+3+3+4 circular and pedological structure, and no rigid separation between arts and sciences.

Students will be taught coding from GRADE VI, there will be vocational integration from Grade VI as against from secondary level, and a gender inclusion fund for the girl child. Board examinations will now be low stake and based on knowledge application, the policy claims.

The policy also mandates a “360-degree holistic report card – by children, by classmates and teachers”.

Addressing the media, India’s higher education secretary Amit Khare said that following the new education policy and reforms, the country would achieve a 50 percent gross enrollment ratio by 2035.

Indian minister Prakash Javadekar said the new policy “is important because there was no change in the education policy in the last 34 years.”

Education minister Ramesh Pokhriyal said that the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) has been renamed the Ministry of Education.

During the briefing, Khare assured that public investment in the education sector would reach 6 percent of GDP at the earliest. Currently, it is around 4.43 percent.

The policy will also include preparation of teachers for assessment reforms by 2023, an inclusive education system by 2030, board exams only to test core concepts, and instilling at least one vocational skill in every child.

The key highlights of the new policy is use of technology in teaching, learning and assessment, a single regulator for higher education, graded autonomy for colleges, and phasing out of the affiliation system in 15 years.

It also includes formation of the National Research Foundation, internationalization of education and multiple entry and exit for students and an academic bank of credit.

The National Testing Agency (NTA) will offer a common entrance exam for admission to higher education institutes, and a National Professional Standard for teachers to be prepared by the NCERT and the NCTE.